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POLICY & REGULATION: UK Labour calls for ’sensible’ GM debate





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TITLE:   LABOUR CALLS FOR ?SENSIBLE? GM DEBATE

SOURCE:  Farmers Weekly, UK

AUTHOR:  Caroline Stocks

URL:     http://www.fwi.co.uk/Articles/27/09/2011/129281/Labour-calls-for-sensible-GM-debate.htm

DATE:    27.09.2011

SUMMARY: "The UK needs to reignite talks on the potential of genetically modified crops to decide if farmers should use the technology to increase yields, the shadow DEFRA minister has said. Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Mary Creagh said a sensible debate needed to be had on whether GMs could play a part in helping farmers produce more while limiting their impact on the environment. [...] If scientists came up with technology that allowed drought-ridden countries to grow crops, politicians and consumers ?need to get their heads around that?, she added."

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LABOUR CALLS FOR ?SENSIBLE? GM DEBATE

The UK needs to reignite talks on the potential of genetically modified crops to decide if farmers should use the technology to increase yields, the shadow DEFRA minister has said.

Speaking at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool, Mary Creagh said a sensible debate needed to be had on whether GMs could play a part in helping farmers produce more while limiting their impact on the environment.

She said previous discussions had been led too much by politics and the spectre of ?Frankenstein foods? and said the UK needed to spend more time looking at the best science available to meet food production targets.

?We need to reform the debate and pose a challenge to the bio-technology industry to come up with solutions,? she told a Crop Protection Association fringe event on Tuesday (27 September).

If scientists came up with technology that allowed drought-ridden countries to grow crops, politicians and consumers ?need to get their heads around that?, she added.

Mrs Creagh said food production was a complicated subject which was ?not something the average punter can understand? and said issues like GM had to be explained with care if people were ever going to look at its potential benefits rationally.

Martin Mortimer, director of Liverpool University?s food security network, said scientists needed to get better at explaining to politicians and the public how science was impacting upon food production and why it was important.

?A lot of the GM debate arose out of worry about new technology, but also because there were certain pressure groups who insisted on pushing it forward regardless,? he said. ?The debate was hurried.

?When you use science to change the minds of people about how food is produced it must be done carefully.

?You need to be honest and say ?we don?t know if this will work?. That requires funding for proper research.?